Today Jeff gets to chat with creator of Killadelphia Rodney Barnes! Rodney is also worked on American Gods, Wu-Tang: An American Saga, My Wife & Kids, Everybody Hates Chris, and so much more!
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Rodeny Branes Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff Haas: Hello, unless there’s a spoiler country today. We have a very special guest, Ronnie Barnes. How’s it going? Mr. Barnes
Rodney Barnes: do a well, Jeff, how are you?
Jeff Haas: I’m doing very well. I must admit I’ve been very much enjoying reading your Kyla. Delphia it’s a fantastically well written series.
Rodney Barnes: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.
Jeff Haas: Oh, it’s my pleasure. My pleasure to read it. so where did your love of writing come from?
Rodney Barnes: man, I guess, I have to ask the universe that, I mean, I’ve always had an interest in literature, you know, I never thought I’d actually be writing for a living, but, I’ve always enjoyed it from childhood all the way up.
And then I’m at a guess in my late twenties, I decided I was going to give it a shot and came out to Hollywood and, took my chance and things seem to have worked out a little
Jeff Haas: bit. Yeah. And so in 1995 you went and you moved to yourself to LA to start writing. Where did that confidence come from? [00:01:00] At what point did you think to yourself?
You know what? I’ve got the goods. I can do this. I’ll be successful. I’m just going to take my chances.
Rodney Barnes: I still don’t think that way. I was, I think, I got into a point where. Why not take a shot? You know, I sort of reverse engineered my way into Hollywood. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to a place where it was.
I wish it was as clean as the way that you just, presented it. you know, I had, when I was in film school, Oh, the school of communications at Howard university, I started to get, immersed into the world of film. I started working on films as a production assistant and, You know, I was around it so much that I knew if I was ever going to take it to the next level.
I had to come to LA because that’s where movies are made. And, little by little, I got closer and eventually sort of worked up. And
Jeff Haas: so you’ve been the production, the Pelican brief, which was a good movie clear and present danger [00:02:00] and Krisha among many other me, your IBM pro Biography is extremely long at this point, but those are three of them I just mentioned.
So what does a production assistant actually do
Rodney Barnes: whatever the prediction needs them to do? It could be anything from, fetching soda for the higher ups to, working with extras, working with background, whatever production needs. I mean, it truly is what it is, you know, a production assistant, whatever the production needs.
Jeff Haas: that’s just, that’s really cool like that you it’s one of those jobs where the average viewer probably doesn’t realize is going on behind the scenes, but it must be an integral to making sure everything is running smoothly.
Rodney Barnes: It is, I’d like to think. So. I mean, I’m a, I’ve had, and I was a production assistant for about six years and I’ve been asked to do virtually everything, everything under the sun.
but again, a lot of experience and I learned the psychology of how movies are made, you know, just the process of [00:03:00] how movies are made. And it was an invaluable, education. So.
Jeff Haas: Was there anything that has been asked of you? That’s on like the weird side, like go grab me this, or like very, did you deal with any, let’s say diva, actors or actresses?
Yeah. I mean,
Rodney Barnes: I can’t say the name, but you know, an actress, a really famous actress threw a toothbrush at me one time. and I’ve had, I mean, a man over the years, I’ve had a lot of weird instances. you know, meltdowns making movies is tough and yeah, it’s a lot of pressure and oftentimes I think people lose themselves.
during the process, but, for the most part it’s been, it was a positive experience
Jeff Haas: now. Yeah. So you went from film school to being a production assistant. Is the process of getting a job like production assistant the same as let’s say I’m a high school teacher. So, you know, you go for an interview, you got hired, you know, or maybe go for several interviews.
It’s productionist has a similar [00:04:00] setup or is it more, you know, you meet you’re making connections you’re or do you have an agent’s helping you out? How does that. Process where
Rodney Barnes: I was an extra on the Pelican brief and a guy by the name of Gary Fiorelli. He was, he was the key set production assistant.
He was the head of the production assistance. And I didn’t know what a production assistant was, but I just saw a bunch of guys running around and he was the one that was telling him where to go. And so, I asked him like, you know, how do you get a job like that? And he said, he offered me a job too.
They had like big days where they had a lot of crowds scenes at the Washington monument, I think it was. And, he asked me if I wanted to come and work for a dead with them. And I was like, yeah, sure. And that day sort of, started a career.
Jeff Haas: that is just, it’s just very cool. Just how little acts of fate can really make that big of a difference in our lives like that.
Rodney Barnes: Very much. So, I mean, I can save for the better part of my [00:05:00] career. It’s all been being in the right place at the right time was saying the right thing at the right time. I mean, has been the opposite too. I’ve said the wrong, and you know, vice versa. But for the most part, I can say that when I needed, you know, to get to the next place I’ve met that person or done that thing that needed to be done to get me to the next level.
Jeff Haas: Well, I’m sure it also has a lot to do with just how good you were at your job. I imagine as well.
Rodney Barnes: yeah, I mean, I think, you know, it’s funny being good at it as subjective. It’s the same thing as writing is saying the same way. Like, you know, someone may love something and another person may hate it as much as that other person loved it.
So I can say the only consistent thing is really just working hard and, people appreciating hard work.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. Well, one thing that I read that was very interesting about you is that you were a stand in for Michael Clark Duncan in the green mile. Yes, he is one big dude though. I [00:06:00] mean, you, so you must be a huge dude as well.
I’m just guessing.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. I mean, we weren’t built the same. we, you know, we weren’t the same complexion. but I really, I kind of, I was working as a production assistant on a movie stigmata and
Jeff Haas: Oh, that’s a great movie. I live with Patricia Arquette, right?
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. And Gabriel Byrne and mom, and yes.
And so, I really wanted to get on the green mile because I wanted to meet Stephen King. Cause he’s my favorite author. And I’m the transportation captain. Was going to meet Frank Darabont, who directed the movie. And he offered me the opportunity to get in the back of the 1939 Patty wagon that was used in the movie to go to Frank and basically pitch myself to him.
And because I’m a really big guy, in his mind, big guy, black guy, Hey, John coffee, they kind of worked up. And so I did it. And, I met Frank and I. He [00:07:00] hired me as a production assistant at a stand in. And, I was there from the beginning to the end.
Jeff Haas: Pretty good for the ego to look at a micro Carter and be like, yeah, I’m built like that guy.
Rodney Barnes: Well, again, he had a lot more muscle than I had. I think for my stomach was the size of his chest. It was like, it was the same size, but it was inverted, but, But yeah, Michael was a great a miss him a lot.
Jeff Haas: He’s a fantastic actor. I mean, he, he was a great King pan. He was, you knew what a guy like that, you know, if he had lived, his career would have kept going with a fantastic trajectory is actually it was extremely strong.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. I mean, he was a great character actor and I’m very unique as you pointed out.
Jeff Haas: Did he ever get a chance to meet Stephen King?
Rodney Barnes: Yeah, I did. He signed, I have every Stephen King book, signed up into the last one that just came up. wow. Yeah, Steve was, He’s a great guy. I really enjoyed meeting him.
And, he gave me some advice and I’m have a picture [00:08:00] of he and I in my library.
Jeff Haas: now the, this was before you became famous. So that was some pretty good advice that he gave you.
Rodney Barnes: I did not know I was famous, but he, before I was still at the production assistant level. So yes. he was kind to me like, regardless of level.
Jeff Haas: If you don’t mind, what advice did he give you for? Cause I mean, someone like me who price is trying to break into writing, I imagine it’s getting advice from Stephen King. Get getting advice from, I guess, Shakespeare, if you live in the 17th century, Yeah. I
Rodney Barnes: mean, it was just, it was mostly alone.
The lines of, how important reading is to the process of writing, focus. a lot of the stuff that’s in on, right? His great book about writing, a lot of that kind of stuff. It was all processed, you know, refining your process and getting to a place where, you know, regardless of what’s going on in your life, just, approaching it.
From a professional place and a focus place.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. You said he actually did one of my favorite books, the stand, which was absolutely [00:09:00] incredible. And I can’t imagine what it’d be like to actually, you know, get a chance to meet that guy. I mean, I assume, like I said, you were, he was a hero of yours, I imagine.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. Yeah. He was, he was the reason why I was jumping through all of those hoops. I mean, he ended up Frank daba who had just done Shasha. what was, fantastic. I mean, it was the whole thing was a great experience. I mean, I think it took six months to make the movie, but Tom Hanks was great, you know, Michael Tjader, Everybody was fantastic.
David Morris. Well, it was all great guys.
Jeff Haas: I mean, you mentioned incredible people when the interest things, once again, reading about you was that over the years you build a strong relationship with Chris rock, you were producer on everybody hates Chris. You were right on two award shows that mr. Rock was hosting, including the Oscars.
So how did that start? And, and why do you guys work so well together? You think?
Rodney Barnes: I think sensibilities, we’re around the same age and, And on everybody hates Chris. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show, but it’s a laugh out of Chris rock voiceover in the show. [00:10:00] I wrote a lot of that and produced it for the show.
So we spent a lot of time together in the recording booth doing are. And, we just, over that time of walking to the recording studio and talking and getting to know each other over time, we just a relationship like any person, Just developed and, we hit it off. We have a lot of mutual interests
Jeff Haas: now.
It’s kind of interested that, you know, when you, as we will get eventually to kill Adelphia, which was, very, action, horror bays. Everybody loves Chris, but obviously comedy and as you’re writing for these, hosting shows like the Oscars as well. Is there, is it a different mindset writing comedy versus, hard?
Do you approach it differently? Do you look at it differently? And I guess also. I mean, is it to be a good writer though? Is key. Do you have to, you know, that means you’re gonna be good at almost any type of writing your approach, you know?
Rodney Barnes: I can only speak for me. it was more of, I look at it all as story.
So whether I’m reading a comic book or a movie [00:11:00] or a TV show or whatever it is, it all has a beginning, a middle and an end. And. You know, I look at it from a character place as well. So if a character has a sense of humor or character is in the scene, it’s still a character. So I really don’t differentiate one from the other that much.
It’s all just writing and telling stories.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. And running comedy. for someone like Chris rock, who once again is one of the top tier comedians, probably in history. Is there, did it feel, is it at all frightening approaching him with jokes and trying to see if you can get him to laugh or because you’re human or similar?
Was it just a natural fit?
Rodney Barnes: 50 50? I mean, there’s always that period in the beginning when you don’t know someone and you know, Chris will let you know if what you said, wasn’t funny. so there’s always, you know, that. That bridge that you have to cross to gain that person’s respect in the realm [00:12:00] of humor.
Like you said, not only is he one of the funniest people that ever lived, but he also is in the community of really funny people. So in order to be able to hang around, you’ve gotta be able to offer something. And unfortunately we found a good place where whatever I do that he likes, it’s kept me around.
For however long, that’s been almost 15 years.
Jeff Haas: So writing something that is fun is funny to you, or are you writing something that you think will be funny to him?
Rodney Barnes: Oh, right. For me. I mean, I’m always trying to make myself laugh if I don’t believe in it, it’s hard to get somebody else to believe in it. So, you know, it’s, I don’t write comedy as much today, but anything that I write typically has a few jokes or something in it, but, I’m always looking to entertain myself first.
Jeff Haas: if we’re watching everybody else. I’m hates Chris. So a lot of that is probably then a little bit of [00:13:00] you your life then.
Rodney Barnes: well, yeah, I mean, most I’ve been fortunate that yeah, most of the things that I’ve worked on, I see myself in it. So if I can find a place where I can net certainly the things that work out, you know, some of the things, the things that, I fit best in are things that.
There’s an experience. You know, I grew up in an urban environment. I understand what it’s like to not have a lot of money. you know, I went to junior high school and, you know, wasn’t exactly the popular guy. So it’s like once you start to make the, the empathy bridge from yourself to another character, and it’s easier to write for that character.
Jeff Haas: Yeah, that’s very cool. And when you’re doing something as well, like the Oscars, which again, you’re doing comedy as well. That has to be, again, it’s such a totally different mindset because once again only is the pressure really high cause so many people watch the Oscars and it gets so amazingly [00:14:00] scrutinize more than almost any other type of broadcast.
I imagine even the approach to writing that has got to be totally different as
Rodney Barnes: well. Not really. I mean, I’m. The way Chris works, it’s kind of a relaxed atmosphere. So, you know, because we’ve worked together for so long and I’ve worked on some of his standup specials as well. So it wasn’t really a thing of ’em.
You know, the stuff on the outside, you know, how many people watch it and you know, how big of a deal it is. Yeah. It’s like, you only really realize that when the show is going on, when you’re putting it together, it’s really more of trying to find the best material that you can and, things that sort of, suit what he wants to do, the theme of what he wants to do.
Jeff Haas: So when you’re writing the comedy for the Oscars, are you thinking about either the actors you kind of want to, I don’t maybe not do it right. We’re a skewer, but reference, is it maybe, do you, are you thinking about maybe what’s going on either culturally or, the media or whatever? [00:15:00] what kinda like when you’re sitting down thinking about what you want to say in something in that kind of area, how you, how are you approaching that?
Rodney Barnes: All of the above. It’s not so much where it’s, There’s not so much a thing. If you watch the asthma’s for the most part. It takes on the tone of whoever the host is. I don’t even think they had a host last year, but it takes on the tone of that person. So what you’re trying to do is, that person sort of guide you as to where they’d like to go.
And your job is to kind of hop on and just go for the ride. And add whatever you can to that, because I think we had like 20 writers or so I don’t, we had a bunch of writers, so everybody’s constantly, submitting stuff, you know, we’re always just jokes, like hundreds of jokes. And then at a certain point, Chris decides what he wants to say and what he doesn’t want to say.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. So going back just a little bit, so. Would you say that [00:16:00] when you’re from a writer’s standpoint, because once again, I do teach writing. does it help you. As, you know, when you’re running harder, a comedy is one type of writing, helping you become better in the other areas of writing as well.
Are you writing, are you when you have to run from like the Austros, do you find yourself running better, either others sitcom or when you’re doing your, Philadelphia or something?
Rodney Barnes: I think, you know, writing jokes, I don’t, it’s not even though jokes are stories, you know, they do have a beginning, a middle and an end, Just the exercise of writing really helps writing, regardless of what type of writing you’re doing, the more I’m writing like right now, between writing all the books and writing, I’m doing it all at the same time right now.
And just the exercise of having to be in the routine of knowing what time I’m going to get up. And knowing what time I’m going to start doing what I do for a day. That really, it doesn’t matter what the thing is. That’s in front of me. It really is more of a continuously having [00:17:00] something in front of me.
And I’m getting into a rhythm of writing more than anything else than what it is.
Jeff Haas: So how many hours do you spend a day writing or are you foot, when you write, are you writing one thing a day? Are you writing multiple different projects in a day and going back and forth
Rodney Barnes: from him? according to what that day yields, like, if I’m working on the HBO show, I typically work on that.
Three four days straight, maybe a week. It’s according to how many scenes I have. and then when I’m done that, and we’re going through the editing process on that, I may hop onto the movie and write the second act to that. or if I’m on deadline for Kyla Delphia, I may have to put that down and, you know, put in a week on, I’m trying to get a book finished.
It’s no real, it’s chaos more than anything else. there is no. Structure to it. It’s just more of really what’s in front of me and what’s due first.
Jeff Haas: Are you, are you allowed to mention which movie you’re working on right now?
Rodney Barnes: Yeah, it’s it’s a horror, monster movie for a new [00:18:00] Regency. we don’t have a title for it yet, but, it’s like a Godzilla movie.
Jeff Haas: Oh, that sounds really awesome. When you think the turnaround date is going to be for completion on that.
Rodney Barnes: I’m afraid to say, because if the producers here, they’re going to expect this script sooner or later, I hope to have it done by the fall. I hope to have the script done by the fall. I don’t know when we’re going to shoot because of the pandemic.
Jeff Haas: so it’s in the script phase, I assume. is it guaranteed for completion?
Rodney Barnes: as guaranteed, I’m going to write the script, as to whether or not we’re making the movie anytime soon, that has a lot to do with the pandemic and, all the politics around that.
Jeff Haas: It would be nice if we got our shit together and he fixed the issue that we’re having with them.
Rodney Barnes: It would be nice and everything keeps getting pushed back. So,
Jeff Haas: are you as frustrated as I am that this is all because some. Jack asses can’t put on a damn mask when they go outside. Yeah.
Rodney Barnes: I mean, you know, but I think it speaks to, where we are as a society. You know, some people [00:19:00] actually look at it as, you know, their liberties are being infringed upon, but you know, they’re going to be more frustrated the longer this takes to ’em.
You know, to go through the, through our society. So it is frustrating. Yes.
Jeff Haas: And someone who, like I said, I’m a teacher and I have to in about three weeks, decide whether or not I’m going to go back into the classroom or not. The fact that issue is it’s still around because of people’s decisions in quotations is very frustrating on my level.
And so I can definitely just imagine what it’s like on your level.
Rodney Barnes: It’s tough. I mean, I’m fortunate that I’m, you know, operate in a space where. You can write from anywhere. So I had been writing nonstop since this has started and I’m kind of an introvert anyway. So being in a room for long periods of time, isn’t necessarily that painful.
I mean, for me, what bothers me or what hurts the most is just how it’s affected the world, how it’s affected the [00:20:00] economy, the people that we’ve lost, the disruption to, You know, American life, that’s really more so what’s happening to other people more so than what’s happening to me.
Jeff Haas: and I will say, growing up for the most part, I didn’t always realize, or that how tangible politics is in daily life.
it always, sometimes always seemed like something that was going on in Washington, D C something going on, maybe away from you. But I do think this pandemic has definitely. Hopefully we can, a lot of people’s eyes to the is how closely decisions made in one place. Washington can affect you daily.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. I mean, from a local level to a federal level to, you know, it’s, it all matters.
Jeff Haas: And so one thing I thought was interesting, Lisa, we’re gonna hit go down very soon. it does. a lot of, humor and not only humor, but you’re writing with Philadelphia does have a, at least when I [00:21:00] was reading it a political aspect to it. Do you feel that, do you ever cause or concern with, how putting politics in something that you’re doing could affect people’s perception of it?
Or is it something that once again, principle, I want to say this, I need to say this. I’m going to say it.
Rodney Barnes: I don’t really look at it as. Political per se, I think because of a few of the characters, here’s come from the world of American history and American politics, but there isn’t really a lot of politics.
Per se, I don’t necessarily take an opinion left or right as to, how we should be as a society or who we should be as a society. I kind of let the characters talk about what’s important to them and I try to leave myself out of the equation.
Jeff Haas: So what made you decide to start writing comic books? Obviously, that’s not where you started as a writer.
what made you decide, you know, what I’m going to, I’m going to go in this direction.
Rodney Barnes: I love comic books, my entire life. [00:22:00] I learned, storytelling, I’d say from comic books, we have been collecting and. I’m reading since five, six years old. So, I’ve always had a love for them. I try to get into comics actually before TV and film and it didn’t work out.
And so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it and, chumped into the arena of writing comics.
Jeff Haas: So what kind of books were you reading or which ones did you grow up on?
Rodney Barnes: but I was a kid, It was more a whatever Neil Adams did. I love like Batman agreed Lanner then if I saw his very distinctive style of art, you know, I was in, and so that was, and then eventually as it evolved, you know, the George Perez’s and Jim Starlin, like I followed artists for a long time.
And then it evolved into writers, the Neil Gaiman’s and Alan Moore’s and you know, those folks. And so, it wasn’t so much particular characters as [00:23:00] much as it was creators.
Jeff Haas: Well, you have fantastic taste in writers from what you just said. I’m a huge freelancer. San Antonio, Adam Daniel Neal green lanterns were so well done.
I mean, it was obviously, they were one of the first real attempts, especially in D C to make commentary on anything that was happening in the world in comic books.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. I mean, I love ’em. I loved, you know, the speedy episode, issue where, you know, speedy was on drugs and it dealt with race and they dealt with a bunch of stuff and Batman was more like James Bond, whereas he had been campy before.
so, you know, just that period sort of spoke to. Where I was as a kid and really resonated with me
Jeff Haas: now, obviously for me, I’m Dale Adams and down here when they were writing, it was before, honestly, before I was born, be honest. how, when. I can only imagine what it was like as a kid to approach them when those stories, when they were new, were they, was it shocking for [00:24:00] you?
Like, did your eyes open up and go, Holy crap, this was possible in a comic book or, you know, do you, was this something that you kind of quickly said, Oh, okay, this is just what’s happening.
Rodney Barnes: yeah, I didn’t give it that much thought. I just thought it was really cool that it was happening. and this is a really cool book.
And it wasn’t so much that I gave a lot of thought to ’em. So it wasn’t that cognizant of, I didn’t have a reference point to what. You know, doing it one way or another way. So, just the fact that it was done was enough for me and
Jeff Haas: for Neil Gaiman. I imagine you are reading a Sandman.
Rodney Barnes: No same man, but I think he did some other stuff, but miracle man was the first for me.
And then later saying, man, and he did some other stuff in between too. Sorry.
Jeff Haas: yeah. Got him. Is once again, it was one, one of my personal favorite writers as well. So why kill Adelphia? What brought you to this idea as something that you got passionate about?
Rodney Barnes: I’ve had the idea in different [00:25:00] forms for the better part of my life.
there was a show called check the night stalker as a kid that I loved the movies of the week and they really spoke to me. and I just always wanted to tell a vampire story. And over the years, you know, once you get an idea, once I get an idea, I can’t, you know, It will all go away. And so I’m constantly rolling it around my head and it evolves and morphs and shifts until I start to put pen to paper and then it becomes whatever it is, whatever it’s going to become.
Jeff Haas: So one of the great thing about Philadelphia is that even though once again, there’s vampires and there’s. Car and go and everything else. It’s a very personal story. And at least in my eyes from between a father and a son, Jim Sangster jr. Father, is basically like the, at least in my eyes, the core of the entire series.
Am I correct on that?
Rodney Barnes: You are correct, sir.
Jeff Haas: So what does that really, once again is a very rough relationship in the story. I think the series [00:26:00] opens up with, Sangster jr. Basically being happy that his father’s dead. I guess it doesn’t paint a great picture of that father. Where does that, where did the idea come from?
Is there anything from your, did he draw from your life and you brought it to, this is just a good idea for a character that you brought in.
Rodney Barnes: you know, I think it wasn’t so much a thing of, a, I don’t think he’s happy. His father’s dead. I think he’s happy that he’s done with this chapter in his life, or at least he believes he’s done with this chapter fear of his life.
And I think for me, yeah, I had. You know, issues as a kid and things that I struggle with my father, I met him later in life, but, I think it was more of just wanting to have a layer complex place that I was starting from between this as strange father and son, and really having to do the work to put them back together again.
Jeff Haas: Well, I think the key point of any great story, no matter how fantastic you make it. As long as the main character is grounded in something that feels genuine and real. [00:27:00] I think our audiences will accept almost any type of story. Let me how fantastical you get.
Rodney Barnes: yes. I believe that to be true.
Jeff Haas: one of the thing I did wonder I might be stretching this a little bit.
There’s the idea in the inside coverage that we’ve put, I got a picture of an autopsy and I kinda always looked at that from a symbolic, way that’s the you’re kind of getting all the top of your look at the character of Jim Sangster and the psychology a little bit. My put I’m putting too far into this, or is just a in cover.
Rodney Barnes: it’s a cool, it’s a cover, but I think we were going for more of a field, like the movie seven, where we were getting into a hard-boiled, even though it doesn’t always play out that way, we wanted to give the field, the detective investigative, part of the story, as much as the vampire part.
Jeff Haas: I got ya.
and as we were talking a little bit about like, kind of like political undertones to it, I do see there does seem to be some in, Philadelphia. in other words, issue when you have, some information [00:28:00] primed in the police and the idea about, who the police truly care to investigate. cause it is a reference about if the, when the characters, who, people who had died, he had more money.
Maybe they’d be looking at it a little bit more. And also you have a, the president as a vampire, all types of groups, please. the wealthy present, all kind of favorite team predators. Is this kind of near, you were going with that.
Rodney Barnes: I think it was more a conversation about class, and CLA and perspective, as it relates to classes like more about John Adams, you know, being a president really came more from, he was a founding father.
And so he would have a different perspective as to what America means. You know, the person, one of the inventors of the idea of America would have a completely different perspective. of what we’ve built America to be today. whether that’s a pro or con, you know, probably you have to talk to each founding father, but John Adams certainly [00:29:00] had his own unique perspective.
And if you look down the roster of the characters, they all sort of fit into a, Institutional idea of what America is. And I was going for that more so than anything else, just the procedure and the idea of how America works.
Jeff Haas: So specific to John Adams, other than being the founding father and his purse that you thought yourself, he’d be a fan of a fantastic idea for a vampire or to be made into a vampire.
Rodney Barnes: It felt like he, of all the founding fathers, You know, he was sort of in that middle place of not getting a lot of love, you know, certainly not like Jefferson or Washington, like the famous ones. and I thought like, what would he feel if he were alive today? and he had the opportunity and the perspective to be able to refashion America, kind of in the, in a guise of what they originally were going for.
It was more about that than anything else?
Jeff Haas: Well, [00:30:00] like I said, I love the writing and Philadelphia. I think it’s so strong and it does feel extremely layered throughout that series. one thing in issue, that you wrote, I thought was just very interesting. I, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to, so for the listeners, so they get, can hear it.
So they should issue to miss Estelle has a great interaction with. Is my pressing right? Kevin is offering her the gift of vampirism, which in his mind, I guess is a gift. Cause there is mortality and she replies. It’s supposed to hurt baby. If there ain’t no pain, you don’t learn. One day you look up at your whole life is gone.
We get the time we do any more is an abomination. And I think it’s a wonderful interaction because once again, it’s two separate philosophies, a Tevin being the idea of the importance of the gift, the living forever, the. Perspective living forever. Then you have mrs. Estelle. Who’s looking at, life as something that should be short, that there is lessons in that mortality and at least the way it seems.
and I was wondering if that was part of the philosophy of your series, the debate between Tevin and mrs. .
[00:31:00] Rodney Barnes: Yeah, it is. I mean, You know, much like even the green mile, you know, Oh, a death. I think there’s a similar thing here with Kyla Delphia of saying, is immortality, if you have immortality and you don’t have purpose, you know, is it.
As great a thing as seemingly it would be, I don’t think anybody looks forward to their own demise, but there’s something to be said about knowing that you only have a certain amount of time and that you have to do the best with it, that you, that you can.
Jeff Haas: So what you’re saying, so Vampyr them doesn’t have to be an abomination.
if you had that vampirism and you chose to do good thing, they Tevon eventually does, then it’s a worth and it’s worthwhile.
Rodney Barnes: Yes, but I think you have to have a very unique, way of looking at life. I mean, I think a lot of the people that John Adams turns are people who are suffering and people who are suffering tend to not look at life in a, you know, in a happy way.
[00:32:00] Like they want more of it. Actually, sometimes it can be the opposite. So I think for ’em. For Tevin, who now has perspective in immortality because it’s not just living forever. It’s like, I don’t have to worry about survival anymore. I’ll have to do is drink blood. I live forever. I’m stronger than I was before.
I don’t have to worry about illness. a lot of the things that we’re concerned about. He’s not, you don’t have to worry about that anymore when you’re a vampire and it gives you the opportunity to actually think and consider a lot of things that you weren’t thinking about when you were struggling to survive as a human being.
Jeff Haas: So in a very real way, then Tevin becomes almost better from having the perspective of time and the time to think. and I can’t help, but think that. That’s almost like a commentary on people because we’ve spent our lives working, eating. I’m just trying to get through our day that we’d probably are, a lot of people are, don’t spend our time thinking about what we could do.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah. I mean, [00:33:00] that’s the, that’s again, that’s a part of the character of America where you’re, we work so hard, you know, throughout the course of our lives. the structure of how American life works and capitalism that, You know, you don’t really get an opportunity to, as some people do, but more often than not, you’re just surviving.
You’re not really living. And if there’s a higher purpose or higher Carlin, sometimes it gets diverted from the idea of just having to survive. We’re trying to figure out how you’re going to survive.
Jeff Haas: Yeah, back in the day. I had a background before I became a teacher. My background was in anthropology.
I did my degree in anthropology, such as it is. and I remember there was a study that they did based, from modern society versus. some of the, more, tribe, tribes living in different parts of the, of the world. And they said that the amount of work done per day is greater in, civil well because of the civilized world than in more primitive of cultures.
I thought that was phenomenal in many ways. Our attempt to become more civilized or more advanced [00:34:00] is actually causing us more stress, more work, less time to contemplate anything.
Rodney Barnes: And if you add in that idea of becoming rich, you know, the need to, you know, kind of live better than everybody else to that equation.
you’re actually gonna probably quadruple that beyond the eight hour Workday or a 10 hour Workday. If you’re. You know, working multiple jobs or, you know, even as an entrepreneur or what have you, it’s easy. I think to get sidetracked in the seeing is that work is all there is to life.
Jeff Haas: I agree with you completely.
One of the things I teach, I teach the American dream or the constant American dream when we do, several novels in, in my classes. I’m including a desperate salesman. And we talk about the American dream and as how it is not necessarily a positive in many ways, it’s almost like that little Cara that’s kept, brought to us a little further ahead of you to kind of convince you to keep working yourself in many ways to death, like, the Carlton death of [00:35:00] salesmen and it’s not necessarily the positive.
That it’s portrayed as
Rodney Barnes: exactly. I mean, I think, you know, when you buy into this idea that, you know, you can be a millionaire or whatever, I guess now what wasn’t millionaire is a billionaire and you hear stories about guys like Jeff Bezos or Steve jobs or bill Gates and, you know, the amount of work, That they have to put into becoming who they become.
You’re almost kind of fit that idea that if you just, that’s the key to happiness. And if you just, you know, if you have a lot of money yeah. Then you’re going to be happy. And I know a lot of rich people who aren’t happy.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. And I think I thought, and I play it sometimes when I do my introduction.
I’m a great, I guess symbol of that idea is when Jimmy Hendrix played the star Spangled banner and he plays it with just enough warping. So it sounds like the music that we understand that starts being a banner, but he, but it’s warped in such a way to how he plays it. I kind of felt that [00:36:00] is a perfect symbol of that idea of American dream.
It’s there. You can kind of hear it and it does sound great, but it’s just such a warped idea behind it.
Rodney Barnes: Yeah, that, yes. I agree.
Jeff Haas: So, just in talking about the idea of, perspective, you had someone like John Adams, who far as I can, I’ve read, it seems to live longer than any of the other characters around him.
And his perspective is actually the longest, but in many ways, his view of America is also in many ways, the most warped.
Rodney Barnes: Yes. I mean, he’s sort of, he’s married to an idea that is, you know, however many hundreds of years old and he really hasn’t evolved much past that idea, you know? And that’s his Achilles heel that, he really can’t get past that original thing that was done and, his place in it.
Jeff Haas: Yeah. And in issue six, you wrote without a boot on their neck, which is their neck, they’re being America. Some don’t appreciate the beauty of a summarize. They lose themselves in what they [00:37:00] ain’t got or what they think they need. So do you agree with that? and that is that a, a re a reference to growing fascism in our country as well?
Rodney Barnes: yeah, I mean, certainly, I believe, Seesaw said that, I think, I certainly think he believes that, I wouldn’t probably go as far, but I can understand the perspective that he was coming from.
Jeff Haas: You also said a, I think it was in the next page. If pity for humanity ventures into your heart, struck it down with malice.
So do you agree? It’s humanely something that is almost should be pitied and in such a sense that we do seem to have maybe lost perspective. We may have lost. Or we’re driving for things that are not really that important to begin with.
Rodney Barnes: Well, I don’t know if there’s a universal weed because I don’t think everybody sees things the same way.
I think that applies to those who would think that way.
Jeff Haas: So what’s your thought then?
Rodney Barnes: again, I mean, for me, I try to find, [00:38:00] I try to strike a balance of, you know, the drive of trying to create a legacy and to hopefully tell stories that, People can embrace in such a way and see characters that they don’t typically see doing things that they don’t, you wouldn’t typically see them do.
And hopefully they bring something positive or good to people’s lives.
Jeff Haas: So with, with Philadelphia, how many issues are you planning for that one? And how far ahead are you? Have you been planning?
Rodney Barnes: I have five arts, kind of a plotted out in my head. So that’s a five, six issue arcs. That’s 30 issues.
So, you know, I’m pretty sure we’ll go beyond that. But, for right now I’ve got 30 issues in my head.
Jeff Haas: So since you have so much background in the movies, when you’re writing Philadelphia is part of your thinking at all, Hey, this would be a fantastic movie or this would be great on Netflix, whether it be great here or there.
Rodney Barnes: No, I’m just trying to tell a good story.
[00:39:00] Jeff Haas: So, are there any other comic books that you’re currently working on?
Rodney Barnes: there are three other series that Jason and I have, over the course of the next six months that’ll come out. we really can’t talk about them before image talks about them, but they’re all be coming out, from image comics and, It’s a lot.
We’ve got a lot of stuff happening over the next six months or so.
Jeff Haas: that’s fantastic. And I do hope as they come out, you do stop by want to chat with us about, all your or your closing and the movie that’s coming out
Rodney Barnes: happy to.
Jeff Haas: Fantastic. well, thank you very much, mr. Barnes. It was really fantastic talking with you.
Rodney Barnes: Likewise, man, I really appreciate it.
Jeff Haas: Oh, it’s our pleasure. And, my pleasure.